Shelby County DA responds to Sheriff Bonner’s claims corrections deputies’ indictment were ‘political’, two deputies named in previous federal lawsuit

Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 10:18 PM CDT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - New words from Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner, who claims political motivations for the indictments against nine of his corrections deputies.

Those deputies face charges in connection with the death of 201 Poplar inmate Gershun Freeman, who died while in custody nearly one year ago.

District Attorney Steve Mulroy is also firing back at Bonner.

Mulroy denies Sheriff Bonner’s insinuations that the cases against his corrections deputies are politically motivated.

“I think we should presume that both the DAs involved acted in good faith absent actual evidence to the contrary,” said Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy. “For a public official to publicly say otherwise in the absence of any real evidence is in my view...regrettable.”

Mulroy saying he did not want the search for justice to become political, that’ why he says he recused himself from the case.

“Let’s suppose that I hadn’t recused myself and an indictment would’ve issued,” said Mulroy. “What would’ve Sheriff Bonner had said? He would have said that it was political. You can’t be in a no win situation. I did everything I could to take politics out of it. I hope that the public doesn’t buy the narrative there was anything untoward bout that.”

Bonner claims Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk, who was assigned the case after Mulroy recused himself, violated state law by releasing video of the incident involving Gershun Freeman, citing security reasons.

Mulroy says there’s discretion surrounding a state law prohibiting the release of a TBI investigative file.

Action News 5 caught up with Sheriff Bonner at a graduation for corrections deputies, eight new deputies are ready to report to 201.

“This is the best training academy in the state,” said Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner. “If you rely on your training, treat people right. You’re going to be fine in this career.”

We’ve also learned, two of the deputies facing charges, Stevon Jones and Damian Cooper, were named in a federal lawsuit against the county in January 2021.

The two were accused of violating an inmate’s civil rights, after a man claims Jones would not feed him and made inappropriate threats of a sexual nature.

The inmate also claimed Jones, Cooper and two other corrections deputies physically assaulted him.

The lawsuit says Jones was suspended without pay for 10 days for violating the the sheriff’s office’s unnecessary force policy and the unnecessary performance policy.

The suit was settled in March.

In the meantime Sheriff Bonner had this message for graduates taking the next step.

“Rely on their training,” said Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner. “That’s what you must do.”

The ninth deputy indicted in this case has not turn themselves in yet.

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